Thursday, November 27, 2014

Working on Thanksgiving

I've been seeing a lot of people suggesting that everyone should boycott stores that are open on Thanksgiving. I disagree.

The idea behind this boycott is that people should be allowed to spend this holiday with their families, and that being forced to work today violates an unspoken, societal agreement that these national holidays should be held as sacred in that regard. It's not a law or anything, but it certainly seems callous on the part of the employers. The idea is that if we collectively decide not to attend these Thanksgiving Day sales then the stores will realize their folly and not do this in the future, if only to spare themselves from paying people to work on a day with no traffic.

Of course, that's simply not how it's going to work. Boycotts haven't been effective for probably the past century or more, especially not on this scale. Boycotts require a united front, and people simply aren't united in that way. The stores can safely ignore the boycott because it'll be completely drowned out by the crowds of people willing to forsake this holiday with their family in order to stand in line for cheap electronics. The fact is, the people boycotting these stores were not likely to be going there anyway, and if you're not the target market your boycott means precisely nothing.

I wonder how much of this sentiment is rooted in a general disgust for Black Friday. That's a sentiment I can get behind, and I think it's funny how Black Friday has continued to bleed into the days preceding it. Black Friday is a strange, horrifying event already, and now it's bleeding into the wholesome, family-oriented holiday of Thanksgiving? I can understand why people might be offended by that. However, like any religion, it's no use trying to argue people out of it: consumerism has more adherents than any other religion in America, and it's no use trying to get them not to observe their holiest holiday.

That said, I'm pretty happy that many stores are open on Thanksgiving Day. In fact, this morning I woke up hungry and was dismayed to discover that didn't have anything to eat for breakfast. Luckily, Albertsons is open for a few hours today, and I was able to pick up some breakfast as well as a few last-minute cooking supplies. Then, in the way home, I realized that I wouldn't have enough gas to do all the driving I was going to have to do today. Luckily, Quick Trip was open, and I was able to fill up my car. There are tons of other stores and services that haven't shut down all day for Thanksgiving, too. Hotels are definitely open. Many restaurants are open, too. Many people are thankful that these services aren't closed today, and boycotting them would just be silly.

So, why is it that only stores with electronics and other consumer goods are targeted by these boycotts? Have they just been arbitrarily labelled "non-essential" and, therefore, fair game for boycotting on Thanksgiving Day?

I'm sorry, but holidays, despite their etymology, are not sacred. I'm all for using social pressure to improve the quality of life for the people who work at crappy companies like Wal-Mart, but I draw the line at using it to dictate days on which stores are allowed to be open.

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